SPAN Walk to proceed virtually this year for suicide awareness

September 13, 2021 BY

Releasing doves has been a staple of the SPAN Walk in recent years. Photo: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT

THE Hope Bereavement Centre based in Geelong will continue its annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Network (SPAN) Walk virtually this Sunday to maintain raising awareness of the prevalence of suicide.

This year’s SPAN Walk was originally planned to take place at Johnstone Park in Geelong, but due to the current lockdown in regional Victoria, an alternate walk is being provided online.

An event page has been set up through SPAN’s Facebook where people can log on at 10am on Sunday, September 12 for a livestream.

The centre then encourages those who are participating to share an image of themselves walking between 10am to 12pm on their social media using the hashtag #SPANwalk2021.

The first ‘Awareness Walk’ was held in 2010, and it has been an annual walk since then.

The Hope Bereavement Care has had always supported the SPAN Walk and over time has become an official advocate for the walk and the SPAN Group.

The centre’s walk is just one of the many taking place all over the country and the main thing they have in common, according to organiser and Hope worker Rylie Jabornik, is that the walk is a positive, active community event where people can come together and pay tribute to lost loved ones.

“The walk means different things to those that participate,” Ms Jabornik said.

“Some of us walk to honour our loved ones, to say their name and walk in their memory. For some of us it’s about standing with those that are bereaved by suicide, so they know are not alone.

“Another important part of the walk is to raise awareness of suicide, reduce stigma and promote the SPAN’s message that ‘tough times pass’.

“When we can walk with other, albeit this year virtually, we can connect with others on a similar grief journey and know we are not alone.

“There are others who are not directly affected by a suicide death and they walk to raise funds for bereavement support for those that are.”

The walk caters to everyone affected by suicide, for those who have been bereaved by suicide and those who are grateful that they haven’t.

Any person can participate within their 5km radius with this year’s event being a virtual one.

The Hope Bereavement Centre also runs a Walk Of Hope to commemorate International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

This walk will be taking place either in person or virtually on October 17 later this year.

“It is important to Hope Bereavement Care that we create multiple opportunities that allow people to feel connected and know that they are not alone in grief,” Ms Jabornik said.

“Through a number of community events and regular support groups people can connect and share their lived experience.”

For more information on upcoming events and support groups visit the centre’s website, Facebook or contact the Hope office on 03 4215 3358.

If you need help, phone Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, headspace on 1800 650 890 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

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